Sunday, June 26, 2011

A word from Voltairine de Cleyre

Again and again she returned to this theme. “Every individual should have a room or rooms for himself exclusively,” she wrote to her mother, “never subject to the intrusive familiarities of our present ‘family life.’ A ‘closet’ where each could ‘pray in secret,’ without some persons who love him assuming the right to walk in and do as they please. And do you know how I was pleased beyond measure the other day to find that William Godwin, the great English philosopher, and Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of Mrs. Shelley, taught and as far as possible practiced the same thing just 100 years ago.” 
“To me,” she told her mother, “any dependence, any thing which destroys the complete selfhood of the individual, is in the line of slavery and destroys the pure spontaneity of love.”

This is from An American Anarchist The Life of Voltairine de Cleyre by Paul Avrich. And very kindly forwarded to this blog by VdC herself! Do I need to point out again that Virginia Woolf takes up the same theme in such similar words a generation later? 

[Voltairine de Cleyre was the lost daughter featured a couple of weeks previously.]


  1. Reading that quote made me think of Woolf right away, too. Fascinating to see how everything is interconnected.

  2. Exactly, Vertigo. So now what we need to know is whether Virginia Woolf read, or indeed had heard of, Voltairine. Connections....